Former President Reagan ate lunch with Emperor Akihito Monday and received one of Japan's top awards - the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum - for promoting free trade and friendship with Japan.

The award ceremony and luncheon at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo was the first meeting between the two men since Akihito succeeded his father, the late Emperor Hirohito, in January and since Reagan retired to California.Akihito and Empress Michiko looked on as palace Grand Master of Ceremonies Kiyoshi Sumiya presented the award to Reagan, palace officials said. Nancy Reagan, Crown Prince Naruhito and Ambassador Michael Armacost also attended the ceremony and luncheon, the officials said.

The Reagans last met the imperial couple in October 1987 when they made an official visit to the United States.

Reagan received the award from the Japanese government for promoting peace and friendship with Japan and for working to protect the free trade system during his eight years in office, officials said. The last and only other U.S. president to receive the honor was Dwight Eisenhower.

Later in the day, Reagan, who is in Japan at the invitation of Fujisankei Communications Group and the Japanese government, was to meet with Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, and to attend a dinner held by Kaifu in his honor.

Reagan and Fujisankei have refused to confirm reports he will receive about $2 million for his appearances on television and at charitable events during his Oct. 20-28 stay.

Fujisankei, Japan's largest media group, has said it was spending $7 million on the visit. On Sunday, the group sponsored a gala benefit concert for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library attended by over 10,000 people.